One book on his list:
"The Victorian Internet" by Tom Standage (Walker, 1998).Read about another title on Crovitz's list.
With every new technology, we overestimate how quickly people change their behavior. This dot-com cult classic compares Web fever to the awe of the telegraph. When Queen Victoria sent the first transatlantic cable to President Buchanan in 1858, the London Times said that the invention "has half undone the Revolution of 1776," and torch-bearing revelers, celebrating the cable's completion, nearly burned down New York's City Hall. Publisher James Gordon Bennett rued: "Mere newspapers must submit to destiny and go out of existence." What was the best way to profit? Faster communications created our Information Age, but the telegraph industry was a short-lived wonder. By 1880, Western Union carried 80% of the traffic. Then came the phone.
The Victorian Internet also appears on Jason Kottke's best books list and Evgeny Morozov's list of ten books to learn how technology shapes the world.